ABAI President and GAFX 2019 programming curator Biren Ghose discusses the significance of the upcoming summit

Aswirl with the buzz and excitement around the Bengaluru GAFX 2019, the AVGC (Animation, VFX, Gaming and Comics) milieu can’t wait to jet it down at the city of Bengaluru to witness the superlative summit. Replete with requisite resources and offerings, Bengaluru GAFX 2019 is set to explore the artistry advanced by a variety of storytellers.

ABAI President and the Curator of Programming for GAFX 2019 Biren Ghose

In order to understand as to what really is at the heart of the summit, Animation Xpress interviewed ABAI President and the Curator of Programming for GAFX 2019, Biren Ghose, while he was at Annecy 2019 the world’s largest animation competition and festival.

What’s the big idea at this GAFX? This year, like never before, GAFX takes a bigger sweep across creativity in all forms and lives up to its increasingly prominent position in the galaxy of global events in Animation, Visual Effects, Games and Comics (AVGC). It kicks off with an ‘Around the World’ perspective from significant personalities from North America, UK/Europe & Australia. The panels include ‘Around the World of GAFX’ (21st June 13:30 – 12:20) The sketch alley is going to be an amazing draw and there is also a fabulous presentation on the 21st of June which shows how Comics and Graphic Novels go to the very roots of audio-visual storytelling. This year GAFX will focus on the creative and give more prominence to the amazing imagery that is created by studios right here in Bangalore in India and across the world leveraging the creative and technical resources from India.

What’s on the show when it comes to VFX?   

The quality and content of our VFX panel are no less than you would find at FMX or Siggraph. We are presenting an amazing short film called Seven Worlds directed by Sir Ridley Scott and the technical crew behind the making of this iconic film with Hennessy will break down the work done.

Seven Worlds directed by Ridley Scott

The VFX supervisor of Double Negative is presenting the making of Venom.

Chris Harlowe who has been the head of the studio for The Mill will take you on a mesmerising journey demonstrating how The Mill has made India the key hub for their global creativity. There is an incredible set of individual presentations from the ‘who’s who’ of the Indian industry across Red Chillies, Makuta, Firefly, NY VFXWaala, BOT VFX among others.

How do you say that GAFX brings the world to India?

India is rapidly becoming a global hub for the production of content and is making great strides into the development of IP for film and TV. The community is young and hungry to see what the world produces and showcase its own state of the industry. Many of the best speakers from across the creative pantheon have been to GAFX before and showcased the best of the best work that has won Oscars and VES awards and Cannes Golds’ etc. This year is even more spectacular and you will see how the art form has progressed!

What’s special when it comes to animation?

Animation is a medium of filmmaking that continues to evolve at a pace faster than anything else! Also, it’s progress informs the imagery for games, AR, VR and all the emerging formats! We have the best of the best from India and abroad at this event! Screenings of films never been shown outside a theatre.
Krish Trish and Baltiboy.

Chotta Bheem Kung Fu Dhamaka from Green Gold Pictures and Krish Trish and Baltiboy (image) from Graphiti – shows that are now being picked up by the likes of Netflix and other contemporary platforms.

Is it true that Indian animation and VFX has made great progress?

India is the largest producer of feature films in the world. With the recent trend of mega-budget productions with heavily loaded Animation and VFX picking momentum, Producers who want to get the latest style of VFX or Animation previously had to go to other locations like L.A, London or New Zealand. This was partly due to the fact, that the latest facilities required for the high-quality output from motion capture, CG animation or top-notch VFX was not available in India until a few years ago. Not anymore. We’ve broken through the mindsets of movie makers everywhere and it is now not a secret that India is at a world-class level when it comes to the top studios in Bangalore, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai and other Indian cities. We’ve demonstrated to the world majors and others that quality and scale is possible across the value chain in animation, games and VFX.

What local content are you showing?

Over 30-50% of all the content being showcased at GAFX 2019 comes out of master-creatives and their work is done in India but never presented before! Also, every speaker and session either represent India or showcases work that is created in India!
Kung Fu Dhamaka
GAFX has an exclusive – never-before – presentation on the making of Chotta Bheem Kung Fu Dhamaka on the 21st evening at 16:45 and a first-ever festival premiere at 18:00 while the movie is still in the theatres in India and the Middle East.
Catherine Branscome
ABAI has been particularly successful at bringing global buyers to India at our previous B2B events.
Sheila de Courcy
Catherine Branscome, Angela Salt and Sheila de Courcy will speak to where development will play a key role in taking Indian IP to global markets. They have all been to India before and been at B2B events of ABAI and can speak to how these IPs have grown in stature and are now travelling to global markets!

The Indian animation journey has made great strides and we are featuring a session showcasing the journey featuring significant stalwarts– Jayakumar of Toonz Animation, Suresh Eriyat of Eekasaurus & Vaibhav Kumaresh amongst others

Vaibhav Kumaresh of Vaibhav Studios Jayakumar of Toonz Animation, Suresh Eriyat of Eekasaurus Munjal Shroff of Graphiti Multimedia (Left to right)
 Many local studios have been doing great work around the world? Is Gafx going to show any of this work?

YES! The service and co-production work done in India for global projects with the world majors has been a great boon to the local talent and India developed tools and technologies that have put us on par with the best. In this regard, we will see a great showcase from the following: Owen Hurley’s World Leading Showcase. Technicolor Animation and Games; Milind Shinde of 88 Pictures; Creatures and Other Wonders by Dan Seddon of MPC Advertising Culver City, California; Co-productions and IP from DQ Entertainment, Toonz Media Group.

MPC Advertising Creature Reel
One of the first brands to put India on the global map for VFX has been MPC Film which has the largest roster of international credits including having worked on three Oscar-winning films and amazing titles such as Godzilla, Dumbo, Detective Pikachu and the upcoming classic “blockbuster” Disney’s July release The Lion King. Companies like Rockstar Games and Ubisoft India have been equally prolific in creating global content from Bangalore and Pune.

Games is reportedly the fastest growing segment globally. Is there any spotlight on games?

I know many of you would have played EA’s console game FIFA, then you should know that for the last over 10 years the animation art for FIFA has been produced at Technicolor India in Bangalore and our artists know every stadium, every blade of grass & the team love working on the latest styles of their heroes. In the four years, Rockstar Games started with a small crew of 20 -40 people and eventually have their own company in India [who are sponsors of GAFX 2019] and have delivered the biggest AAA titles from their studio of over 600 people!
Cindy Armstrong
Similarly, Ubisoft will represent some amazing work they have produced for the world out of their Pune and Mumbai studios. We have the pleasure of presenting Cindy Armstrong who is an industry veteran having worked in the games industry for the last 30 years. She will bring a huge perspective to the GAFX audience of games lovers.

When it comes to original content development what is the state of the art and how will Gafx throw light on this?

The Karnataka government’s efforts to produce intellectual property in India has reaped rich rewards through ABAI – the Elevate and B2B events have taken almost a dozen projects to the world stage. These will be featured at GAFX and will inspire many young people to come forward in this journey. We are educating and growing grassroots talent at 27 art colleges around Karnataka. ABAI brings 650 talented young artists from the remote corners of the state to this event.

There are two fantastic panels showing what is happening in the state when it comes to computer graphics in the Kannada Film Industry: GAFX is featuring the making of KGF Chapter 1 which has been one of the highest grossing movies in the local film industry in recent times

Anything that’s very special to you about GAFX 2019! We are bringing over 650 young aspiring artists from all over Karnataka and will be exposing them to the best of the best in the world – we expect that some of them will one day be in this stage with award-winning content! This is an extension of our Digital Arts Center programme that celebrates 5 years and is a partnership between ABAI and the Government of Karnataka’s KITS.

What connections does GAFX seek to make with global organisations?

We at ABAI are pioneering the “women in animation” theme and are seeking to extend our alliance with the global WIA [Women In Animation] organisation; we are specially premiering the SIGGRAPH ASIA EXHIBITION – this is a specially paid entry at their event.
.Best of Annecy

Also, we are screening the Best Of Annecy both the competition winners and Annecy Kids which will give everyone a taste of what a sterling jury considers the world’s best films in the past 12 months! There will also be a special screening of Graphiti Multimedia’s ‘Krish Trish and Baltiboy’

While you talk about creativity being the focus, doesn’t technology have a role to play across all of AVGC?
Center of Excellence

Computer graphics is disrupting and positively influencing the growth of all

Government of Karnataka

forms of film, TV and games. The Govt. of Karnataka in its Centre of Excellence project at ABAI had already imported the world’s leading motion capture system from Vicon.

Phil Stilgoe of Centroid who has been an ABAI supporter for many years will share his startup experiences in Mumbai and Arul Murthy who has been a thought leader at the CoE together with the new head of CoE Shiji Sunil will outline the opportunities available to local communities to consolidate Bengaluru as the hub for incubation, production and learning.